As fans are aware, the Emmy-nominated martial arts series “Cobra Kai” has its fair share of fight scenes. During an August 2021 live stream, a few of the show’s cast members shared how they prepare before filming intense action sequences.
William ‘Billy’ Zabka, Peyton List, Xolo Maridueña, & Jacob Bertrand Spoke About the Show’s Fight Scenes in an August 2021 Live Stream
During the live stream, William “Billy” Zabka, who plays Johnny Lawrence, read fan questions to his co-stars, Xolo Maridueña, who plays Miguel Diaz, Peyton List, who plays Tory Nichols, and Jacob Bertrand, who portrays Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz. Zabka asked his castmates “what’s the physical preparation like for fight scenes,” specifically “the big fights like the end of season 2” when a massive brawl broke out in the hallways of West Valley High School.
Maridueña shared that throughout season 2, the cast was focused on their training.
“It almost felt like the whole season we were trying to stay warm like keep our bodies warm and loose so that when we would get down to learning the choreography it was easy just because, I don’t know, you can’t really prepare for something like that in just like a week or like a few days. Just by sheer nature, we’re kind of practicing the whole time we’re filming, that being said it is difficult,” explained the 20-year-old.
Bertrand then shared that “when [the cast] train[s] it’s like a lot of boxing drills.” He also noted that before shooting the season 2 fight scene at West Valley High School, the cast spent a weekend with the show’s former stunt coordinator Hiro Koda to ensure that it went smoothly.
“We just drilled it with Hiro, you know, holding his camera over and over and over and over until like it was one huge machine and we could just do it with our eyes closed,” said the 21-year-old.
Zabka also revealed that the show’s stunt coordinators will do some previsualization using stunt performers before shooting a scene with the actors.
“They’ll get their stunt guys together right and they’ll have each of our character’s stunt person and they’ll actually choreograph the whole fight,” explained the 55-year-old. “They’ll put it to music and we’ll actually watch it as the actors and see our stunt guys do it, right. Then we have to get in there and we have them as our back-up and they actually will literally shadow us like you know, I got a guy that’s me, my stunt guy against Daniel’s [Ralph Macchio] stunt guy and me against Ralph and we’ll literally watch each other. And we do it that way. So that’s one way that they come together and then along the way we’ll modify it because sometimes the move is too tricky or we want to add something or we have an idea or it doesn’t feel right for the character and then between the two — between the stunt people it gets downloaded to us and then we put our artistic expression in it and then we go out and do it and then sometimes we tweak it on the set. And it’s usually ready to go.”
Hiro Koda Spoke About Previsualization in March 2021
During an exclusive interview with Heavy, Hiro Koda shared why he believes it is important to use previsualization when coordinating stunts. He explained that “it just becomes like a blueprint for the crew, the director, everybody.”
“It just gives us a whole wide scope look at what exactly we have designed and how we plan to execute it. And I know, I mean, I shoot it, and I cut it — and if there needs to be visual effects to it I’ll do that, and I’ll add music. It’s all put together so it’s like a full scene so they can kind of see the timing of it and the beats of it and how it’s kind — if the music needs to be amped up to get the energy going on the scene,” shared Koda. “And then sound effects, and that way we have a full previsualization of what we’re going to execute on the day. And we do it prior to any of the shoot days. We have the time while we are rehearsing. We’ll brainstorm it, the choreography, and the design of the action. And then we’ll start to shoot the preview, and once I put that together, I kind of turn it into the directors to have a look at it to make sure we are all on the same page.”